Arriving in Ho Chi Minh city was a bit of a shock after a quiet night in the homestay in the village. I stayed in District 1 which is the backpacker area which has a great buzz full of bars trying to entice you in with happy hour and restaurants for Vietnamese food. I loved the buzz for a few days with the madness of the motorbikes and no real system for crossing the road. I was definitely getting my quota of exercise with my sprints across the road which was most definitely needed after all the wonderful food and Saigon beer!!
I had a lovely few days in the city and my train was booked and the next stop would be Nha Trang further up the coast. There are lots of transport options within Vietnam with flights being reasonable and buses but my preference is always the train. I’m not someone who see’s travelling as a chore but part of the adventure. I booked a soft seat as it was a long journey and it was mostly local people on the train but they had the blinds down to sleep so I missed a lot of the amazing scenery. I stood inbetween the carriages for the last part of the journey and gave my seat to a local guy who had been standing most of the way. It was funny as a few of the locals came to see if I was ok because they thought he’d taken my seat and I was forced to stand!! The communication was limited but with my smiling face and thumbs up they realised I was ok. Eight hours and 400 km later I arrived in Nha Trang and I was pleasantly surprised as i’d heard mixed reviews about the place. It’s supposed to be the party capital of Vietnam but I also thought it had a nice relaxed feel and a stunning coastline.
I did some sightseeing while I was here for a couple of days and visited the Cham Towers which were built between the 8th and 11th centuries by the Cham people. The Cham people were Hindu in origin and a small minority still live in central Vietnam but most people have converted to Islam. The towers were very brightly decorated inside with lots of vibrant colours.
I then went to Hon Chong rock which I wasn’s sure about telling muself, ”It’s only a rock, shall I bother?” I’m really glad I did as it was so quiet there and a great place to chill for a while and take in the sea view. According to the legend once upon a time when a giant man was sitting there fishing and a giant fish swallowed the bait and pulled him away. He tried to pull himself back with a fishing rod in hand pressing the other hand against the rock leaving the handprint you can see.
I then visited Long Son Pagoda that had a beautiful white Buddha statue up on the hill with amazing views towards the town. I had a brief chat with a monk while admiring the wood carvings and decoration inside the statue.
After a lovely morning sightseeing it was time for lunch on the beach at the Louisiane Brewery for a fruit flavoured beverage and plan the next stage of my journey and escape the heat to the mountains. Check in next time to hear about my adventures in the mountains.
Bye for now,